Burst:Reading Early Literacy Intervention - Frequently Asked Questions

The following items address frequently asked questions about using the Burst®:Reading Web application.

Implementing Burst at Your School Teaching
Assessing Managing Student Progress
Grouping Technical Information



Implementing Burst at Your School

1. What are the important roles that teachers and others on the instructional team play in delivering Burst:Reading?
2. What are the ways my school can address the difficulty of consistently holding Burst sessions?
3. What should the rest of my class do while I work with the Burst group?
4. What should teachers do if they miss a day of Burst?



Assessing

1. Is it important to assess with DIBELS and Burst measures before grouping and requesting instruction?
2. How do I interpret the Completion Status information on the Summary Tab when I have scored VOC?
3. When I request a new Burst, it does not appear to take into account my students’ most recent assessment data. Why not?



Grouping

1. How does the Burst system decide which skills to teach each group?
2. Should I create Burst groups for my entire class?
3. How many Burst groups should I create?
4. The name of my first group does not start at 1. Why?
5. As I create Burst groups, some of the students are not appearing. Why are these students unavailable?
6. As I create Burst groups, or a new Burst, it does not appear to take into account my students' most recent assessment data. Why not?
7. Why can't I see my group?
8. Why do my groups contain a mix of Intensive, Stragtegic, and Benchmank students?
9. Why do I have a Burst group with all Benchmark students?
10. Can I add students to my Burst group?
11. How do I know when to change students in Burst groups, or what should I do when groups become disparate?
12. I created a new group to replace a group I deleted, but it has all the same students. How do I avoid this?
13. I have a student who needs more help than any other student in my class, but he wasn't added to a group. Why not?
14. I changed the students in my group and now the Burst doesn't seem to fit the needs of these students. Can I get a new one?


Teaching

1. What is essential about Burst instruction?
2. Is Burst as effective of my groups meet four days a week and last approximately 20 minutes?
3. How do I handle a Burst session that take more than (or less than) 30 minutes?
4. How far can I depart from the steps specified in the Burst?
5. How do I make Burst sessions effective for all student in the group?
6. How do I change a Burst if I feel it doesn't match all of my students' needs?
7. What if a child is absent from Burst instruction?
8. How do I use Burst with my ELL students?
9. How do I use Burst as a response to Intervention (RTI)?
10. How do I use Burst with my Special Ed students?
11. Where do I find the related lesson materials and game boards referenced in my Burst lesson?
12. I am a new Amplify customer. The Burst lessons for my 2nd and/or 3rd grade groups are too hard. What could be wrong?
13. The Burst lessons for my 2nd and/or 3rd grade groups are too easy. What could be wrong?


Managing Student Progress

1. How should I respond when some of the students in my group make great progress, but progress is slower for others?
2. How should I respond when a student in my group has made more progress than the rest of the group?
3. The students in my Burst are progressing at different paces. Does Burst automatically replace the high-performing students with the lower performing students?
4. What if my students aren't able to meet the stated goals of the "Apply the Skills" activities?


Technical Information

1. Why am I receiving emails from the Burst Educational Support Team?
2. Why can’t I open the PDF?

FAQ Answers

Implementing Burst at Your School


1. What are the important roles teachers and others on the instructional team may play in delivering Burst:Reading?

The ultimate goal of the Burst:Reading program is to give students the foundational skills they need so they can start reading independently and become successful readers. To accomplish this goal, teachers and others on the instructional team may work together to play several roles to implement and sustain the Burst program. Together, the whole team can contribute to the success of Burst:Reading. Here is a brief description of required and optional Burst roles, in addition to examples of who may fulfill them. Please remember that these are just examples; multiple roles can be assumed by the same person, and your school’s implementation may require others to join the Burst team to support your students.

Role Primary Burst Task Possible Personnel
Burst Requestor Uses the Burst system to request Bursts for:

  • A classroom, requesting as many groups as desired.
  • A pull-out or push-in, requesting groups containing students from assigned class or all classes.
  • A walk-to, requesting groups and assigning teachers.
  • Reading/Literacy Coach
  • Intervention Specialist
Burst Small Group Leader Serves as leader of the Burst group in an in-class, pull-out, or before- or after-school model for 30 minutes daily, providing instruction as specified in the Burst lessons.
  • Classroom teacher
  • Intervention Specialist
  • Resource teacher
  • Extended-day teacher
  • Paraprofessional
Progress Monitoring Leader Uses mCLASS®:DIBELS® and Burst measures to progress monitor all students in each Burst group toward the end of the current Burst lesson plan, on one of Days 7 through 10.
  • Classroom teacher
  • Reading/Literacy Coach
  • Intervention Specialist
Interventionist Works with single student who has not acquired Burst targeted skills when the Burst group proceeds to new skills. This student will benefit from the Burst small-group instruction, but also needs one-on-one instructional time using activities from the earlier Burst for the specific skill the student does not possess.
  • Classroom teacher
  • Intervention Specialist
ELL Support Provides additional support for your ELL students and identifies particular parts of the Burst lessons that may be troublesome for them, to reinforce and extend Burst lessons with these students.
  • Bilingual/ELL teacher
  • Intervention Specialist
Class Support Leads whole-group, work center, or paired-reading activities with the non-Burst students.
  • Student teacher
  • Paraprofessional
  • Parent volunteer
  • Older student(s)
Implementation Specialist Reviews grade-level data to ascertain the most effective Burst implementation model. Provides for or delivers training as necessary. Supports any of the above roles to insure fidelity of implementation and strong student outcomes. Troubleshoots and coaches to enhance Burst:Reading implementation. And/or assumes any of the above roles.
  • Principal
  • Assistant Principal
  • Reading/Literacy Coach
  • Principal
  • Lead teacher
  • Grade-level team members (led by Coach or grade-level lead teacher)
  • Data Specialist
  • Test Coordinator



return to top


2. What are the ways my school can address the difficulty of consistently holding Burst sessions

  • Consider getting a substitute Burst teacher to accommodate teacher absences.
  • If scheduling is an issue, a Burst group could meet at different times of the day. It is more important to teach a Burst every day for 30 minutes than to maintain a strict time slot.
  • Make sure that the students who are not in the Burst group know the routines of the classroom and have meaningful work to complete that requires very little teacher supervision.



3. What should the rest of my class do while I work with the Burst group?
In some schools and districts, teachers may have the option of having a paraprofessional or parent volunteer lead an alternate activity while they are working with a Burst group. Another option some teachers employ is to use this time for buddy reading with students from fourth and fifth grade classrooms, who will have the chance to get reinforcement of lower-level reading skills acquired earlier.

Alternatively, those students who are not receiving small-group instruction may be guided to work independently. We believe the key to success here is to teach your students the necessary routines, procedures, and behaviors through explicit explanation, demonstration, and modeling (for instance, modeling smooth transitions between literacy centers). During this time of establishing rituals and routines, it will be critical to give students supportive and corrective feedback and to set expectations of acceptable noise levels.

One way students can effectively work independently is through the use of meaningful literacy center or work station activities, in which students or small groups of students move from station to station. In helping students understand what is expected of them, one great role-playing approach is the fish bowl: Four students go to the center of an area, everyone else watches them and comments on what they’re doing, then students do a group share.

A rule many teachers use to ensure that small-group work is not frequently interrupted is Ask Three Before Me, in which students are taught to ask three other students for help before asking the teacher. Students might be taught other strategies that keep them independent — such as trying a different approach, creating a sticky note for you, or moving on to another work station until you are free. Silent signals (such as a raised finger) can be used to alert you to, for instance, a student’s need to go to the bathroom. And students do need to know that they can interrupt you in case of a true emergency.

Classroom organization can also support independent work. Resources, materials, and equipment must be accessible and well organized. The layout of work stations is important: Ideally, quiet ones should be separated from ones that require talking or reading aloud, while louder work stations should be far away from small-group work. Students also need clear guidance with the tasks they need to complete via, for example, a task management board, menus, or an assignment sheet. And students need a routine for what they should do with finished and unfinished work. We have found that it is important to phase the centers, opening one at a time until five to ten are open. Consider having a relatively large number of activities available, so students can work at their own pace and in smaller groups, avoiding common pitfalls such as too many students in one spot talking loudly, being off-task, or fighting over materials. Movement from center to center or transitioning from one seat activity to another can be managed with a kitchen timer or teacher signaling. With younger students, it is important to select developmentally appropriate activities that are relatively short in duration. Once the procedures are in place, and you have selected center activities, then you are free to begin teaching Burst:Reading.

There are great resources for center ideas. Most core reading programs and basals have suggestions. In particular, the Florida Center for Reading Research site ([http://www.fcrr.org www.fcrr.org]) has good suggestions for center activities that are cross-walked with DIBELS® measures, and [http://www.freereading.net FreeReading™] has great graphic organizers and “build mastery” lessons [http://www.freereading.net (www.freereading.net)]. You will want to select ideas and activities that reinforce skills taught during other parts of the day (this could include math or other subjects).

----
Here are some specific ideas for what other students might do while you work with the Burst group:

  • Partner or Buddy Reading -To facilitate buddy reading, you’ll need easily accessible duplicate copies of books at all reading levels.
  • Classroom Computers -For example, reading living books or e-books, or using literacy or numeracy software.
  • Reading Activities Center -This might include song and poetry cards, big books, and other reading materials.
  • Letter Centers - These might offer, for instance, letter-formation activities; hands-on letter activities with magnetic letters, sandpaper, stamps, sponge alphabet letters, letter tiles, and so on; ABC fun activities with ABC books and song and poem cards; letter-sequencing alphabetizing, and letter-matching activities; letter-recognition activities; and letter-sorting activities.
  • Write the Room - Using small clipboards, students copy print they see anywhere in the room.
  • Read the Room -Solo or in pairs, students read anything posted in the room.
  • Word Wall Work -Copy words onto the word wall using tactile or other word-making materials.
  • Pocket Charts - For instance, to make words, sort words, make sentences, complete story sequencing, and so on.
  • Star Authors -Students write and then read their work.
  • Listening Centers - Students can listen to recorded books with the reader being either a professional (such as with books on tape), the teacher, or a volunteer.
  • Word Work -Students work with word families, featured letters or phonograms, alphabetical words, high-frequency words, picture-word matching, sorting words, and so on.
  • Bookmaking Center -Students create books about a topic that interests them, connects to books they have read in class, or are related to their studies.
  • Journaling -Students write a journal entry either in a journal or on the overhead. This can be done in pairs with co-editing — starting as drawings and progressing to writing.
  • Puzzle Center - Students solve puzzles relating to how to make words, sentences, and sequences.
  • Writing Center -This provides a variety of writing materials and writing samples to encourage functional writing, such as greeting cards, menus, invitations, or grocery lists.
  • Phonological Awareness Center - This center provides opportunities for students to practice completing onsets and rimes, matching rhyming pairs, matching initial sound pairs, and so on.
  • Word Hunts - During word hunts students search for and tally high-frequency words, vocabulary words, letters or digraphs in words, and so on.
  • Sentence Work - This includes sentence collecting, sentence punctuation, sentence puzzles, overheard sentences, sentence matching, sentence writing, and so on.
  • Post Office -Write to the teacher or fellow students.
  • Dramatic Play or Puppet Play - Students use baskets of books and props or puppets to act out stories.
  • Browsing Box -A box containing informational books for independent or group exploration and leveled text for pair or group discussion. The books must have been previously read in guided reading.

There are many other ideas, of course; we’ve provided these examples just to stimulate your thinking and start the planning process through which your classroom can operate smoothly during Burst instruction.

return to top


4. What should teachers do if they miss a day of Burst?

  • Based on our data analysis, we have learned that daily Burst instruction for 30 minutes is best and results in the greatest student gains.
  • In addition, it is important that groups of students receive new Burst instruction every two weeks. A Burst should not last longer than 14 calendar days, including weekends and school holidays.
  • If instruction will change dynamically based on student progress, it is essential that schools and teachers keep their Progress Monitoring and instruction in sync. Once a new Burst begins, students should be progress monitored 7 to 10 days later, without any extensions. We want to make sure that students are always receiving the best instruction for where they are today — rather than based upon data that are three or four weeks old.
  • Therefore, the general guideline is to use Progress Monitoring as scheduled and move forward with instruction. Specific scenarios and recommendations follow:
    • When Burst cannot be held due to school programs, field trips, holidays, and unexpected days off, the best option is to find an additional 30 minutes in the week to double instruction time resulting in two Burst sessions in one day — one at the regular time and one additional 30-minute intervention time.
    • For inclement weather, missed school, and other periods that last more than one day, use Progress Monitoring and start new Burst instruction — if you have already completed at least half of the current Burst. While this will mean that fewer than 10 Burst lessons are taught, the new lessons will better reflect where students are in their current progress.
    • For week-long school holidays, it is best to arrange for the Burst to end prior to the vacation and complete Progress Monitoring by that time as well. Request the new Burst before the break so that you can commence with the new Burst after the break.
    • If this scheduling is not possible, continue with the previous Burst.

return to top

Assessing


1. Is it important to assess with DIBELS® and Burst measures before grouping and requesting instruction?
Yes. Burst:Reading relies on assessment data for grouping and instruction. Grouping is most accurate immediately after benchmark periods when all students have recent data. Without this data, Burst:Reading will not work optimally.

return to top


2. How do I interpret the Completion Status information on the Summary Tab when I have scored VOC?
When students in Grades K-3 score 13 or higher on a VOC benchmark, administering additional VOC benchmarks for the remainder of the year is optional. On the Summary tab of the Class Summary page, second and third grade students will have pause icons automatically placed in their remaining Time of Year columns to indicate partial completion of all assessments.

However, because of the assessment workflow rules, the VOC grade affects the completion status for kindergarten and first grade students in a different way. The following scenarios explain how Burst:Reading displays these situations on the Summary tab of the Class Summary page.

Scenario 1
MOY and EOY status after a kindergarten student scores 13 or above on VOC at BOY

A check mark in the student’s BOY column indicates the student completed Burst Assessment. Because the student scored 13 or higher on VOC at BOY, Burst:Reading considers the assessment complete for the remainder of the year. Check marks display in the MOY and EOY columns as no further measures are required for kindergarten students.

Scenario 2
MOY and EOY status after a first grade student scores 13 or above on VOC at BOY

If a first grade student completes VOC for BOY, a check mark displays in the BOY column. Additional Burst:Reading measures are required for Grades 1–3 in MOY and EOY. While VOC is considered complete for the remainder of the year, DEC or CS also will be required, depending on the student’s performance on DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency. Pause icons indicate this in the MOY and EOY columns.

Scenario 3
EOY status after a first grade student scores 13 or above on VOC at BOY and completes CS at MOY

If a student completes VOC, the only Burst:Reading measure required of first graders at BOY, a check mark displays in the BOY column. Because VOC already is considered complete, and the student completed CS (the required measure based on the student’s DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency performance) during MOY, a check mark displays in the MOY column. The EOY column shows a pause icon, as the student hasn’t completed DEC or CS for that time of year.


3. When I request a new Burst, it does not appear to be taking into account my students’ most recent assessment data. Why not?
The Burst system performs item-level analysis of all Burst assessments overnight so it does not interfere with your ability to access your assessment data during the day. If it is the same day you synced your students’ assessment data, this analysis has not yet occurred.

return to top

Grouping


1. How does the Bursts system decide which skills to teach each group?

The Burst algorithm uses item-level analysis of the available assessment results to calculate each student’s proficiency level on each skill within the Burst Skills-Based Model. It then groups students with similar needs. During the grouping process, you can click the center of a group to view the students’ level of proficiency (Beginner, Making Progress, Proficient) on the group’s focus skills.



return to top


2. Should I create Burst groups for my entire class?
No. Burst:Reading Early Literacy Intervention has been designed as an intervention product. It is intended to supplement the core literacy instruction for those students who most need targeted individualized instruction.

return to top


3. How many Burst groups should I create?
Create as many groups as you can support. Groups will continue meeting until students no longer need intervention. Each group you create displays one or two focus skills.

return to top


4. The name of my first group does not appear at 1. Why?
The Burst system creates default group names by using the last name of the teacher creating the group and the number of Burst groups created or taught by that teacher. In any case, we recommend renaming groups so they are meaningful to you. To rename a group, click its name during the grouping process. After it is saved, you can rename a group by clicking Edit Group on the group’s Manage Burst page.

return to top


5. As I create Burst groups, some of the students are not appearing. Why are these students unavailable?
Students cannot belong to more than one Burst group. Unavailable students may have been placed in groups by other faculty members. To be included in your group, each student must first be removed from the other group.

return to top


6. As I create Burst groups, or a new Burst, it does not appear to be taking into account my students' most recent assessment data. Why not?
The Burst system performs item-level analysis of all Burst assessments overnight so it does not interfere with your ability to access your assessment data during the day. If it is the same day you synced your students’ assessment data, this analysis has not yet occurred.

return to top


7. Why can't I see my group?
Ask the person who requested the group to make sure you were assigned as the Burst Teacher. In most cases, teachers see only groups that have been assigned to them or groups with students in their classes. Reading coaches, principals, and other administrators can create and manage Burst groups from any class they oversee.

return to top


8. Why do my groups contain a mix of Intensive, Strategic, and Benchmark students?
Because student groups are based on very specific needs at the item level, they can include any combination of students who would be categorized as Red, Yellow, or Green within the familiar Instructional Recommendation model.

return to top


9. Why do I have a Burst group with all Benchmark students?
Burst:Reading analyzes each student’s item-level data to determine which skills they have acquired. Until a student has mastered the highest skill tracked, the Burst will suggest targeted instruction for the student, regardless of his or her mCLASS®:DIBELS® rating. If needed, you can always delete the group.

return to top


10. Can I add students to my Burst group?
While it might seem appropriate to add other students to your group, it is important to maintain the group’s composition and size. The group composition allows for focused and effective instruction targeting common needs. Research has shown that groups of three to five students can be as powerful as one-on-one tutoring (Elbaum, et al 2000) but that larger groups are less effective. This group size allows for individual student participation and significant teacher/student interaction.
Similarly, consistent group composition promotes the development of a learning community. The group develops a sense of safety and openness, and students participate more actively in the learning process. Students begin to support each other during Burst time and during other parts of the instructional day.
Of course, you could decide to remove a student from the group to make room for another student. But it’s best to let the Burst system manage group membership — it considers all available assessment data for all at-risk students in your class (or across multiple classes) to recommend the best fit. If, after considering and trying these thoughts and suggestions, you are still concerned about group composition, contact the Burst Educational Support Team at (800) 823-1969, Option 5, or email us at bursts@amplify.com.

return to top


11. How do I know when to change students in Burst groups, or what should I do when groups become disparate?
If you grouped your students as recommended by Burst:Reading and you notice one or more students continue to perform differently from the rest of the group even though they may not be flagged as outliers, please contact the Burst Educational Support Team at (800) 823-1969, Option 5, or send us an email at bursts@amplify.com for support in adjusting group composition to maximize gains from Burst instruction. If all students have very different skill profiles, consider deleting and requesting new groups. You may want to review the group with the Burst Educational Support Team to obtain additional guidance.

return to top


12. I created a new group to replace a group I deleted, but it has all the same students. How do I avoid this?
If you want all different students in your group, request a new group before deleting the old group. Because a student can be in only one group at a time, the students in the old group are excluded from your new group.

return to top


13. I have a student in my group who needs more help than any other students in my class, but he wasn't added to a group. Why not?
In this case, the student likely needs a skill no other student in your class needs, which leaves us in a difficult instructional position. For instance, this student may still need extra help with Phonological Awareness, but the rest of your students may need help with Sounding Out. We can either hold back the rest of the class to focus on skills only one student needs or we can put that student in a group that may be much too difficult. We have several pages on BurstBase offering guidance to support this student; for additional information, you may also contact the Burst Educational Support Team at (800) 823-1969, Option 5, or send us an email at bursts@amplify.com.

return to top


14. I changed the students in my group and now the Burst doesn’t seem to fit the needs of these students. Can I get a new one?
You cannot request two Bursts for a group on the same day, but you can request a new Burst after waiting one day. Make sure the students in your group have up-to-date Progress Monitoring data synced at least one day before you request the next Burst so it is customized to their needs.

return to top

Teaching


1. What is essential about Burst Instruction?

  • Teachers should follow the Burst instructional routine, use all of the provided activities, and provide for practice opportunities for each student in the group.
  • Use the Support and Challenge differentiation options to meet the individual needs of students.
  • Progress Monitoring should be completed on Day 7, 8, or 9. Please wait overnight for the newly synced data to be incorporated before requesting a new Burst.
  • Students in a Burst group should be taught consistently by one Burst teacher, preferably at the same time every day.



return to top


2. Is Burst as effective of my groups meet four days a week and last approximately 20 minutes?
Each Burst should be taught 30 minutes per day and completed in 10 school days.

return to top


3. How do I handle a Burst that takes more or less than 30 minutes?

Students should all have the chance to practice the skills taught and demonstrate their level of acquisition of the goal of the lesson. Students have multiple opportunities to encounter the same skills, receive instruction on those skills, and practice what they’ve learned. Mastery is acquired over time, not in a single instructional session. It is very important that students are actively engaged in the lessons. Therefore, the suggested pacing should be followed. It is also important to know that, with practice, the pacing of your teaching will be closer to the suggested minutes.

Burst sessions regularly taking longer than 30 minutes could indicate:

  • The Burst is too challenging for this group of students.
    Try using the Support tips included on each activity page. You may also need to progress monitor students and sync the new data to get a Burst that is better aligned with the abilities of your students (especially if you have changed students in this group).
  • You may need to deliver the Burst instruction at a brisker pace.
    Burst activities were designed to be delivered in rapid succession.

Burst sessions regularly taking substantially less than 30 minutes could indicate:

  • The Burst is too easy for this group of students.
    Try using the Challenge tips included on each activity page. You may also need to progress monitor students and sync the new data to get a Burst that is better aligned to the abilities of your students (especially if you have changed which students are in this group).
  • You may need to deliver the Burst instruction more slowly.
    Are students fully mastering each activity before you move on? Is that true of every student in the group?


    • return to top


      4. How far can I depart from the steps specified in the Burst?
      Though Burst lessons include specific examples of what you can say to your students, most teachers paraphrase using their own words. That said, each numbered step in a Burst activity is there for a reason. So it’s important that whatever words you use you carry out each step. For instance, some teachers skip steps that call for individual student responses — perhaps due to lack of time, or because they want to keep all students involved, or because they worry about putting a weaker student “on the spot.” These steps are critical for you to be able to assess the progress of individual students for yourself. Research shows that teachers who perform these mini-formative assessments frequently are significantly more effective.

      There are a handful of “approved” variations, however:

      • Use the Challenge/Support sections. These variations (listed on every Burst activity page) were created specifically to focus on the same skill for students at different ability levels. If you use the Challenge version, you can also extend the activity by adding more practice items of your own invention.
      • Substitute problem items during fluency-building activities. For instance, in Letter Sound Fluency activities, you can focus on just the letter sounds with which you know your students need the most practice (often, these will be the vowel sounds and easily confused letters such as ''d,'' ''b,'' and ''p'').
      • Substitute high-frequency irregular words from your core program. Some teachers find that their Bursts are teaching high-frequency words at the same time as students are learning high-frequency words in the core program, and they are concerned that the combination of the two is becoming confusing for students. In this situation, it is appropriate to replace the words recommended in Burst activities with words that students are learning in the core program. Note, though, that this will require you to invent practice passages for activities such as ''Use the Clues'' and ''Simon Says.''



      return to top


      5. How do I make Burst sessions effective for all student in the group?
      As with all small-group instruction, during Burst sessions you will observe individual student engagement and performance. In particular, you will be noting student performance on each of the two skills highlighted for this Burst lesson. You will want to note performance across the 10-day Burst and on a daily basis. The desired outcome for each student is mastery of the two target skills.

      Toward this end, you will want to:

      • Encourage non-participants. All students in a small group should be involved in thinking and doing. It is important that, in your first Burst session, you establish and discuss the methods and ground rules you will use to encourage participation. We recommend calling on students in random order to ensure they are always paying attention. Students need to know that over the course of the 30 minutes, each will be expected to respond. Be on the lookout for students who cover their uncertainty by waiting for other students to respond first. Ask students to be respectful of each student’s turn to answer.
      • Prize teachable moments. The only way to evaluate an individual student’s level of understanding is to provide opportunities for that student to respond solo. The Burst program provides intense instructional support for students, but students will not do everything seamlessly. Every student error is a teachable moment. We recommend that you employ a correction procedure immediately addressing the student’s error while also maintaining student motivation and the flow of instruction. Let’s suppose a student pronounces less as “liss.” You could respond as follows, moving through this hierarchy until you elicit the correct response:
        1. “Try another way.”
        2. “Break the word into individual sounds, and then blend it, and say it fast.”
        3. Cover the onset, displaying the rime (ess), and ask what sound this part makes.
        4. “The word is less'. What’s the word?”
      • Assess each student’s movement towards acquisition of the skill or skills printed at the top of the first page of each Burst. Burst instruction does not move to new skills until every student in the group has made adequate progress toward the group’s target skills, as demonstrated by Progress Monitoring performance. Some one-on-one instruction may be required for a student who is not progressing at the same pace as his or her peers; if that student falls too far behind the rest of the group, Burst helps you look for groups that might be a better instructional fit.
      • Keep students on task. Because Burst activities are so engaging, we believe that on-task behavior will be routinely observed. This is a critical aspect of classroom management and instruction and a prerequisite for good student outcomes. Use routines to create consistency and a safe small-group environment. Use established classroom consequences to correct inappropriate student behavior. With small groups, it is particularly effective to use body language and the tone of your voice to communicate the need for on-task behavior.
      • Despite challenges that may arise, we believe your small-group work will prove rewarding. Researchers report that, regardless of the subject matter, students working in small groups tend to learn more of what is taught and retain it longer than when the same content is presented to the whole class.



      return to top


      6. How do I change a Burst if I feel it doesn’t match my students’ needs?
      Here are some of the most common solutions we’ve encountered around this issue.

      Progress Monitoring

      You have the students; all we have is their assessment data. If that data is out-of-date or doesn’t reflect the true ability of your students, the Burst instruction we send could be slightly off-target.

      • Check the date of the last progress monitoring assessment for the students in your group. If it was more than two weeks ago, assess them again.
      • Check that the students in the group were assessed with the progress monitoring measures specified in the Burst. Note that Burst sometimes asks you to assess a different Progress Monitoring measure than the one DIBELS associates with the critical skill for your students’ grade level and the time of year. That’s because the Burst system needs data about the skills being developed by the group, which might not always align with the critical DIBELS skill. If Burst recommends DIBELS PSF and you assess NWF, the group’s next Burst instruction could be off-target. Assess again using the Progress Monitoring measure called for in the Burst.
      • Sometimes students simply have a bad day, so their assessment performance isn’t indicative of their true ability. The Burst algorithm is smart enough to realize your students probably haven’t slipped backwards, but it won’t be able to detect their forward progress until it is demonstrated in an assessment. In this case, re-assess the student.

        Specifically for Blending

        A particularly common example of when a student underperforms on the test in relation to his or her true abilities occurs with blending. If students can blend in class but do not blend during DIBELS NWF assessment, consider practicing NWF and letting the students know that you want them to blend words if they can.

        Introducing Skills/Building Automaticity

        Since Burst is about firmly establishing foundational skills in reading, we focus on those skills in particular; students may be progressing faster in developing other skills. Let’s say that instruction in your core program has moved on to reading connected text. Students in a Burst group may be able to recognize many words but lack the ability to decode new words they come across. Burst takes them back a couple of steps to ensure they are comfortable with important precursor skills such as letter-sound correspondence and phoneme segmenting. The lesson may therefore seem too easy in light of students’ overall abilities but may be properly gauged for their skills in the Burst focus areas.

        Burst also tries to establish automaticity. As reading researcher Jay Samuels has explained, learning to read is in some ways like learning to drive:

        For the beginning driver, so much attention is focused on the mechanical aspects of driving that holding a conversation with a passenger while driving is impossible. But the skilled driver can simultaneously listen to the radio, hold a conversation, and appreciate the scenery [because] skills practiced and learned to the point where they are considered “automatic” demand less cognitive and attentional energy. Another example of automaticity may be found in a high school student reading a social studies text. If the student is a skilled reader, multiple tasks are being performed at the same time, such as decoding the words, comprehending the information, relating the information to prior knowledge of the subject matter, making inferences, and evaluating the information’s usefulness to a report he or she is writing.

        This multi-task functioning is possible due to the reduced attentional demands needed to perform the automatized task, thus freeing up attentional energy for other functions. The ability to perform several complex tasks at the same time — whereas at the beginning of training one could only perform one task — is an important characteristic of expertise. Dual-task performance in reading, such as the ability to decode and comprehend simultaneously, is an important indicator that the decoding is automatic.

        How do students attain automaticity? Practice. So even if a Burst looks like it’s not teaching anything new to the group, it may be providing important practice as a means to build automaticity. Practice in automatically recognizing irregular words, for instance, will allow students to decode text more quickly, freeing up cognitive resources to focus on its meaning.

        Some students may be in a group that isn’t the best fit for them. The Burst grouping algorithm tries hard to match students within groups at the start of a term. As the term progresses, some students move ahead faster than others. You could find, after as few as four weeks of Burst sessions, that two out of four students are ready to progress to new skills and two are not. In this situation, we want to make sure the Burst we send you is appropriate for all students in the group, which means we target it at the lower two students. That provides some practice for the two students who are ahead, while the other two catch up. A better solution might be to divide up the group so we could provide Bursts that are on-target for both sub-groups of two students, but that would mean twice the Burst time. In most cases that isn’t feasible. In this situation, we recommend that you call the Burst Educational Support Team at (800) 823-1969, Option 5, or send us an email message at bursts@amplify.com for guidance.

        Each Burst starts out easy and gets harder. If the first day of a Burst looks too easy, check the last day before drawing a conclusion about its appropriateness for your group.

        Use the Challenge option

        Remember that every activity comes with Challenge and Support options. If every student in your group can perform the Challenge version of every activity in a Burst, that’s a strong indication that they are ready to move to the next level.

        If you still feel the Burst is not challenging enough, send an email message to bursts@amplify.com and we’ll adjust the next Burst to fit better.


      return to top


      7. What if a child is absent from Burst instruction?

      • If a student is absent for a short period of time, he or she should rejoin the Burst group with proper support when he or she returns. Remember that Burst instruction provides students with multiple opportunities to practice the same skills.

      • A student who is absent for a long period of time requires the teacher to evaluate the situation.
        • Some students may be able to return to the group with only a little extra support. Consider implementing a 25/5 Burst structure (25 minutes for the group, 5 minutes for extra one-on-one support) for a short while to help him or her learn the skills he or she may have missed.
        • If a student is not able to catch up this way, consider moving him or her to a Burst group focusing on earlier skills, if available. Otherwise, this student may need more intense one-on-one help before returning to the group.
      • If a student is absent on a progress-monitoring day, perform Progress Monitoring upon his or her return, but do not delay syncing and requesting the new Burst.



      return to top


      8. How do I use Burst with my ELL students?

      Burst instruction is appropriate for English Language Learners who are at-risk for reading English. In fact, some recent research (including a report (Gerston et al. 2007) from the US Department of Education’s ''Doing What Works'' initiative) suggests that ELL at-risk students benefit from the same interventions as English-only at-risk students, ideally with an additional component of vocabulary instruction. If you don’t speak the native language of an ELL student, it can be useful to know what letter-sounds he or she might struggle with. For instance, Spanish speakers may say /b/ instead of /v/, ''berry'' for ''very.'' Here's a list of these easily confused letter-sounds:

      Letter
      Sound
      Activity Title Note(s) For
      which language?
      a Introduce Short a Short a sound doesn't exist in Spanish or Vietnamese languages. For Spanish speakers, “hat” may sound like “hot.” Native Korean and Russian speakers may pronounce short a as /ya/ after some consonants. Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Tagalog, some Asian languages
      e Introduce Short e Speakers of Spanish and some Asian languages may have difficulty distinguishing between short vowel sounds. Since Spanish does not contain the short e sound, get may sound like gate, or pain may sound like pen. Confusion can occur between English vowel name E and Spanish vowel name I, which are pronounced identically. Also, no schwa sounds exist in Spanish. Spanish, Tagalog, some Asian languages
      i Introduce Short i Speakers of Spanish, Tagalog, and some Asian languages may have difficulty distinguishing between short vowel sounds. Spanish does not contain the short i sound for English and there is a tendency to use long vowels for short vowels. Since ELLs may pronounce short i like /ee/ in see, hit the mitt could be pronounced as heat the meat. Spanish, Tagalog, some Asian languages
      o Introduce Short o Short o sound is similar to the sound of the letter name a in Spanish, Portuguese, and Tagalog. Children may need to practice seeing and hearing word pairs such as hat and hot, cat and cot in order to pronounce short o words correctly. Spanish, Portuguese, and Tagalog
      u Introduce Short u Speakers of Spanish, Tagalog, and some Asian languages may have difficulty distinguishing between short vowel sounds. Spanish does not contain the short u sound for English, hence hud may be pronounced as head and will require extra attention for the child to learn. Pull may sound like pool. Help them position their mouths properly when saying /u/, with the mouth open and the tongue down. Spanish, Tagalog, some Asian languages
      b Introduce b Speakers of Japanese, Korean, and Spanish may have a hard time distinguishing the /b/ and /v/ sounds. Exaggerate the difference in the articulation between b and v. Show the closure of the lips for b and the upper teeth on the lower lip for v. Also, /b/ is a sound produced without vibration, while /v/ is produced with vibration. To distinguish these two sounds, have students close their ears with their hands so they can hear or feel the vocalization of the /v/. Ask students to continue the v sound for the length of the breath. In Spanish, /b/ is usually not in the final position, so speakers may delete this sound in the final position or pick another sound they are more comfortable with. Japanese, Korean, Spanish
      d Introduce d In Spanish, pronunciation is much softer than English /d/, more toward the /th/ in “then.” Students are likely to substitute this sound or simply use the /t/ sound. Make students aware that /d/ in Spanish words such as 'abogado' (lawyer) or 'dedo' (finger) is pronounced as th. Then try to have them transfer this sound to the appropriate words in English such as this, the, then, etc. When used in the final position, native Cantonese or Vietnamese speakers may sound as if they are leaving off the last sound. Spanish, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Korean
      g Introduce g Speakers of Hmong, Khmer, Korean, and Vietnamese may confuse a hard g with /k/. Help students practice distinguishing the sounds in word pairs, such as gold, cold; got, cot; and game, came. When used in the final position, native Cantonese or Vietnamese speakers may sound as if they are leaving off the last sound. Hmong, Khmer, Korean, Vietnamese
      h Introduce h ELLs may pronounce /h/ with a harsher sound that resembles the sound of the letter j in Spanish, e.g., jope for hope.In Spanish, /h/ is usually not in the final position, so speakers may delete this sound in the final position or pick another sound they are more comfortable with. Spanish
      j Introduce j Spanish doesn't have this sound, so it may be substituted with the /ch/ as in choke for joke. They also tend to have a hard time distinguishing this /j/ sound from the /y/ sound and may say jet for yet and vice versa. Spanish
      l Introduce l Native Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese speakers may confuse the sounds of /l/ and /r/, so give additional practice in producing /l/ in isolation and initial and final positions. When used in the final position, native Cantonese or Vietnamese speakers may sound as if they are leaving off the last sound. In Spanish, the /l/ sound is usually not in the final position, so speakers may delete this sound or pick another sound they are more comfortable with. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese
      m Introduce m Since Spanish does not generally have /m/ at the end of a word, Spanish speakers may substitute /n/ at the end of words. When used in the final position, native Cantonese or Vietnamese speakers may sound as if they are leaving off the last sound. Spanish, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Korean
      p Introduce p Speakers of Korean, Cantonese, and Vietnamese often confuse /p/ and /f/. Spanish speakers do not aspirate the /p/ sound. Ask the students to hold a single sheet of paper tightly with both hands in front of their mouths. If they aspirate the sound strongly enough, they should see or feel the sheet of paper moving. Since Spanish does not generally have /p/ at the end of a word, Spanish speakers may substitute another sound. When used in the final position, native Cantonese or Vietnamese speakers may sound as if they are leaving off the last sound. Korean, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Spanish
      r Introduce r Some languages do not have r and others pronounce r differently. R as in rope will be a difficult sound for Spanish speakers. They may try to compensate by rolling the r as in the Spanish words rosa or carro. The most common consonant substitutions are /w/ for /r/. Students may also use a /w/ or /u/ to create a glide, such as in waipen for ripen. Spanish
      v Introduce v Speakers of Japanese, Korean, and Spanish may have a hard time distinguishing the /b/ and /v/ sounds. Show how the lips and teeth are used differently to produce each sound. Provide additional practice with /v/ words. The /v/ sound does not exist in Spanish and many pronounce it like a /w/ sound. Exaggerate the difference in articulation between /b/ a n d /v/. Students are likely to substitute /b/ for /v/ producing words orally like berry for very. The most common consonant substitutions are /w/ for /r/. Japanese, Korean, Spanish
      w Introduce w Many speakers of other languages confuse /w/ and /v/. In Spanish, the most common consonant substitutions are /w/ for /r/. To practice /w/, have students start with lips tightly rounded; unrounded and
      glide
      .
      Russian, German, Spanish
      x Introduce x Speakers of Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Hmong may not be familiar with /ks/ in words like box, max, fox. Spanish uses this sound in words such as taxi, but it is not common for Spanish words to end in x. Cantonese, Vietnamese, Hmong, Spanish
      z Introduce z There is not a Spanish counterpart for z. The speaker is likely to substitute /s/ for /z/, e.g., sipper for zipper, sue for zoo. S is a voiceless consonant and z is a voiced consonant. If students close their ears with their hands, they should hear or see the vocalization of z. Spanish
      qu Introduce qu In French, Portuguese, and Spanish, qu has the /k/ sound, therefore students may not be sure how to pronounce words like queen, quiet, and quick. French, Portuguese, Spanish
      sh Introduce sh Spanish speakers have difficulty with /sh/, but find it easier to produce the sound /ch/. Have students produce a prolonged ssshhh. Be sure that their lips are rounded in producing this sound. Then, have them transfer this sound to the appropriate words: ssshhhip, wassshhh Spanish
      th Introduce th Th is a sound that exists in English and Greek. Most English Language Learners will say /t/ or /d/ for th. Make Spanish speakers aware that /d/ in Spanish words such as 'abogado' (lawyer) or 'dedo' (finger) is pronounced as th. Then try to have them transfer this sound to the appropriate words in English such as this, the, then, etc. Spanish, Eastern Asian
      ou Introduce ou This letter combination doesn't exist in Spanish. Speakers may say cooed for could. Have students practice sound with their tongue low, back and fixed, and jaws together. Spanish
      ow Introduce ow This letter combination doesn't exist in Spanish. Exaggerated practice will be helpful. Spanish
      au Introduce au This letter combination doesn't exist in Spanish. Speakers may say tot for taught. Spanish
      aw Introduce aw This letter combination doesn't exist in Spanish. Spanish
      oo Introduce oo This letter combination doesn't exist in Spanish, especially as in the words “book” or “took.” Speakers may say full for fool. Spanish
      ** Knowing that most Spanish words end with a vowel, not a consonant, teachers can provide extra practice to help Spanish speakers distinguish and pronounce consonants at the ends of words. Spanish
      ** In Spanish the letters b, c, d, f, l, m, n, p, q, s, and t represent sounds that are similar enough to English that they may transfer readily to English reading for many students. The l, r, d, n, and s are the only five consonants that may appear in the final position in Spanish. Spanish
      **In many Asian languages, the final consonant sounds are unreleased. When a native Cantonese or Vietnamese speaker speaks English, it may sound like they are leaving off the last sound. The rule in their language is different from the rule in English.

      Citation
      Gersten, R., Baker, S.K., Shanahan, T., Linan-Thompson, S., Collins, P., & Scarcella, R. (2007). Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades: A Practice Guide (NCEE 2007-4011). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from [http://ies.ed.gov/ncee ies.ed.gov/ncee].



      return to top


      9. How do I use Burst as a response to Intervention (RTI)?

      Burst:Reading is an excellent intervention to use in either a small-group intervention (known as Tier 2 in RTI parlance) or one-on-one (Tier 3). In fact, if you are using DIBELS® to monitor progress and track responsiveness, you may be interested to know that Amplify has an RTI add-on for mCLASS®:DIBELS®. mCLASS®:RTI automatically plots responsiveness data for you and compares individual student growth rates with an Aim Line and with the median growth rate for similar students. You can use mCLASS:DIBELS, mCLASS:RTI, and Burst:Reading — together with Amplify’s customized professional development services — for a powerful RTI solution.


      return to top


      10. How do I use Burst with my Special Ed students?

      When using Burst:Reading with Special Ed students, we recommend creating smaller groups of three students. If you want to create a group of fewer than three students, call support at (800) 823-1969, Option 5. For certain Special Ed students, you may want to augment Burst:Reading with a behavioral component to ensure that students are able to stay focused on the Burst instruction. return to top


      11. Where do I find the related lesson materials and game boards referenced in my Burst lesson?

      The game boards and other lesson materials can be found at www.burstbase.net/materials.



      return to top


      12. I am a new Amplify customer. The Burst lessons for my 2nd and/or 3rd grade groups are too hard. What could be wrong?

      Because you are a new customer, your 2nd and 3rd grade students do not have historical assessments in earlier skills that Burst could use to help shape the lessons. Lessons which appear to be too difficult could be because your students lack blending or letter sound skills which would be revealed in an mCLASS:DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF) assessment. Without data, Burst will not place older students in earlier grade skills, and will often begin with decoding or fluency lessons which could be too difficult for students without blending or letter sound skills. We suggest you progress monitor all students in your group using a first grade NWF form, sync, wait overnight, and then request a new Burst for this group.



      return to top


      >13. The Burst lessons for my 2nd and/or 3rd grade groups are too easy. What could be wrong?

      Usually, the last time students take the NWF assessment is at 2nd grade BOY. If they scored low on that measure either last year or earlier this year, there may be no other NWF assessments showing they ever became proficient in blending or letter sounds. Because Burst thinks they still need those skills, the lessons may be too easy. Take a look at the skills hexagons for the students in your group. If you see empty or half-filled hexagons in Letter Sounds or Blending, this is most likely the problem. We suggest you progress monitor all students in your group using a first grade NWF form, sync, wait overnight, and then request a new Burst for this group.



      return to top

      Managing Student Progress


      1. How should I respond when some of the students in my group make great progress, but progress is slower for others?
      Burst uses the DIBELS and Burst Assessment data to form groups of three to five students with common instructional needs. When a Burst group is not composed of students with common instructional needs, students with different instructional needs are indicated by a green or red circle, and Burst:Reading may recommend a different group for them.

      Creating Groups
      If you are in the process of creating groups and you encounter a green or red circle, it is because the available data indicates that the student is not a good instructional fit for that group. Click on the student's initials for details. If you encounter this, you may want to find a more suitable group for this student or remove the student from the group and provide individual tutoring.

      The previous example shows two instances of students not matching the instructional needs of the group. These students are not a good fit and should probably be moved to another group.

      • Ms. Zweig's group shows that "HO " has demonstrated proficiency in both of the group's focus skills: Phonological Awareness and Letter Sounds.
      • Mr. Bridges' group shows that "JJ" has not demonstrated proficiency with one of the precursor skills to this group's focus skills — in this case, Phonological Awareness.
      • Use Activities from Earlier Burst Instruction
        You may also encounter a green or red circle when the students in your group progress at different paces. As the term progresses, some students move ahead faster than others. So you could find that after only a few weeks with Burst:Reading, some students are ready to move on to new skills while others in the same group are not. Next time you monitor progress, you may find that all your students but one are now ready to move on. It is important to realize that the Burst system will not delay the group from moving on if only one student is unready. Instead, it may recommend a group better suited to that student’s needs.

        If you choose not to move the student, he or she will probably need one-on-one instructional time outside the Burst group. Find five minutes alone with that student, and provide focused instruction. We suggest you use activities from an earlier Burst that focus on the specific skill the student has not mastered. For example, suppose your group has just finished Burst #2 on Phonological Awareness and Letter Sound Instruction. All students except Shawn have reached mastery. You know from observation that Shawn can segment and blend initial sounds, but he is unable to segment last and middle sounds. You could find a few minutes outside the Burst session to repeat some of the last-sound segmenting activities from Burst #2 with Shawn. You may also want to direct him to literacy center activities that provide independent practice in this skill area.


        2.How should I respond when a student in my group has made more progress than the rest of the group?
        You may have a student who has acquired the skills being taught to the group. In this case, Burst:Reading may recommend that you move the student from that group and place him or her in a more advanced group.

        return to top


        3. The students in my group are progressing at different paces. Does Burst:Reading automatically replace the high-performing students with lower performing students?
        No; Burst:Reading leaves that decision in your hands. After you sync Progress Monitoring Results, Burst:Reading recognizes if a student is moving slower or faster than the other students in the group. Before you create the next Burst for the group, you are presented with the option to move these students to a Burst group better suited to their needs.


        4. What if my students aren't able to meet the stated goals of the "Apply the Skills" activities?

        Although all other activities have Support and Challenge variations for student differentiation, the games at the end of the Burst lesson (the Apply the Skills activities) do not have provided adjustments. In this case, Burst teachers should differentiate by using methods that work in the classroom while still ensuring that all students are practicing the goal of the lesson. For instance, some students may have difficulty with the Initial Sound Memory: Phonological Awareness Game. During this game, the teacher arranges a series of picture cards face down and students must find matching pairs of pictures with the same initial sounds. Some students may have difficulty keeping track of the face-down cards and finding cards with the same initial sounds. To accommodate these students, consider leaving all of the cards face up. This accommodation makes the game easier while still keeping the stated goal: given two pictures, the student can determine whether or not they have the same initial sound.


        return to top

        Technical Information


        1.Why am I receiving emails from the Burst Educational Support Team?
        Early every Monday morning, Burst checks each group to see whether three expectations were met.

        • A new Burst was requested at least once every two weeks (18 calendar days including weekends and unavoidable interruptions).
        • All students in the group were given Progress Monitoring during that 18-day period.
        • The administered Progress Monitoring included the necessary measures to inform the current or next Burst.
        • If any of these conditions aren’t met when Burst does its check, you might receive an email reminder. If you resolve these issues any time after Monday morning, you shouldn’t receive another reminder the next week unless a new issue arises.



        If you are late requesting the next Burst because of snow days, holidays, in-service days, or any other reason, simply request the Burst as soon as you can. If you received the notice about a Burst group because you no longer teach it, delete the group to stop receiving email reminders about it. You can delete a group from the group page on mCLASS. Click Edit Group, then Delete Group on the resulting page.

        If you received notice of late Progress Monitoring and had students who were absent, please progress monitor them as soon as you can. If students were absent when the last Burst was created, try to progress monitor them before requesting the next one. If multiple students have incomplete or missing Progress Monitoring data, it becomes difficult for Burst to tell whether instruction is meeting all the students’ needs or progressing at a pace best suited for the entire group.

        return to top


        2. Why can’t I open the PDF?
        The PDF should open in your browser window after you click View.

        • If the file does not open, you may need to install Adobe Reader. Click Get Adobe Reader at the bottom of the Manage Burst page.
        • To print the Burst after it opens, go to the File menu and select Print.
        • If you would to save the Burst for future reference, click Save As… on the Manage Burst page.



        return to top